H is for Helen

Helen-macdonald-hawk

Q: What moves you most in a work of literature?

A: Honesty, vulnerability, moments of forgiveness and redemption, and a recognition that we are all small and our lives so short.

~ Helen Macdonald: By the BookThe author of a 2015 Best Book of the Year“H Is for Hawk” 


Notes:

  • Inspired by: “Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read.” — Werner Herzog
  • Photograph: thetimes.com

A little dazed perhaps (wow)

A little dazed perhaps…(right!)


The Present


Stick with this to the end…

Saturday Morning

foot-sculpture-eve-at-the-fountain

I uncross my legs
to find, with a bare foot,
that sun has warmed the stone.
I partake of the sun.
*
And the stone.

— Rebecca Lindenberg, excerpt of Dispatches from an Unfinished World


Credits:

 

Word. Full Stop.

wrinkle-face-close-up-portrait

Wrinkles here and there seem unimportant
compared to the Gestalt of the whole person
I have become in this past year.
Somewhere in The Poet and the Donkey Andy
speaks for me when he says,
“Do not deprive me of my age. I have earned it.”

– May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Notes:

It’s been a long day

bird-on-wire

Perhaps the hardest feeling
is the one
Of unrealized possibility:
Thoughts left unspoken,
actions left undone

~John Koethe, from “The Secret Amplitude,” North Point North: New and Selected Poems 


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

close-up-face-eye-freckles-portrait
It
Troubles me that time should make things sweeter, that
Instead of learning to perceive things as they are I’ve
Learned to lose them, or to see them as they disappear
Into the insubstantial future. Everything here is mine,
Or lies within my power to accept. I want to find a way
To live inside each moment as it comes, then let it go
Before it breaks up in regret or disillusionment.

~ John Koethe, from “Between the Lines,” North Point North: New and Selected Poems


Notes:

  • Photo: via Mennyfox55. Poem: The Distance Between Two Doors
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Riding Metro North. And Sleeptalking.

train-gif

4:50 am.
11 minutes to the 5:01, the first train to Grand Central.
I step onto the front porch into darkness.
And into Salter’s Burning The Days…at both ends.

Peter Cottontail scurries down the driveway, his white tail bobbing.  A four-legged leaf clover.

Did I stop and allow myself to be surprised? Or did I trudge on in a daze?David Steindl-Rast prods in Awake, Aware and Alert.  Yes, David, Yes.

My head is down, I’m watching for icy patches. The footfall is covered with a moon shadow – the mind bleached with a word slurry. First Harrison: If you are strained, lacerated, enervated…take a night walk as far as you can get from a trace of civilization – a dance, and the ghost that follows you, your moon-cast shadow, is your true, androgynous parent.  And then Kalanithimy specklike existence against the immensity of the mountain, the earth, the universe and yet still feel your own two feet on the talus.  Lacerated. Enervated. Specklike. Immensity. My two feet. Flooded with Gratitude.  I keep walking.

4 minutes to departure. I pick up the pace. [Read more…]

through bone and rain and everything

hold,black and white

On a spring day in 1950, when I was big enough to run about on my own two legs yet still small enough to ride in my father’s arms, he carried me onto the porch of a farmhouse in Tennessee and held me against his chest, humming, while thunder roared and lightning flared and rain sizzled around us. On a spring day just over twenty years later, I carried my own child onto the porch of a house in Indiana to meet a thunderstorm, and then, after thirty more years, I did the same with my first grandchild. Murmuring tunes my father had sung to me, I held each baby close, my daughter, Eva, and then, a generation later, her daughter, Elizabeth, and while I studied the baby’s newly opened eyes I wondered if she felt what I had felt as a child cradled on the edge of a storm— the tingle of a power that surges through bone and rain and everything.

~ Scott Russell Sanders, A Private History of Awe


Image: Suzanne with a Little Part of You

 

Burning the Days…

smoke-pink-burning

Life is short, as everyone knows. […]

When I ask myself what I’ve found life is too short for, the word that pops into my head is “bullshit.” I realize that answer is somewhat tautological. It’s almost the definition of bullshit that it’s the stuff that life is too short for. And yet bullshit does have a distinctive character. There’s something fake about it. It’s the junk food of experience.

If you ask yourself what you spend your time on that’s bullshit, you probably already know the answer. Unnecessary meetings, pointless disputes, bureaucracy, posturing, dealing with other people’s mistakes, traffic jams, addictive but unrewarding pastimes. […]

But you can probably get even more effect by paying closer attention to the time you have. It’s easy to let the days rush by. The “flow” that imaginative people love so much has a darker cousin that prevents you from pausing to savor life amid the daily slurry of errands and alarms. […]

One of the most striking things I’ve read was not in a book, but the title of one: James Salter’s Burning the Days. […]

Perhaps a better solution is to look at the problem from the other end. Cultivate a habit of impatience about the things you most want to do. Don’t wait before climbing that mountain or writing that book or visiting your mother. You don’t need to be constantly reminding yourself why you shouldn’t wait. Just don’t wait. […]

Relentlessly prune bullshit, don’t wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have. That’s what you do when life is short.

~ Paul Graham, Life is Short


Notes:

 

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